Matt Kenseth said his car was fast all weekend, and it showed on track, with Kenseth qualifying on the pole and becoming the first driver since Jimmie Johnson in 2008 to win at Kansas Speedway from the first starting position.
Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations/Kansas Speedway
Matt Kenseth apparently has the “new” Kansas Speedway figured out.
Kenseth made it two-in-a-row at Kansas Speedway, winning the STP 400 on Sunday.
Kenseth said his car was fast all weekend, and it showed on track, with Kenseth qualifying on the pole and becoming the first driver since Jimmie Johnson in 2008 to win at Kansas Speedway from the first starting position.
“We had a good car,” said Kenseth. “Everything worked out at the end. We were in the front for that last pit stop and able to hold station there and get out in clean air, so that was the key.”
Kenseth has finished in the top 10 in nine of the 15 races he has run at Kansas Speedway. He led four times during Sunday’s race for a total of 163 laps—the most of any driver today.
Kenseth’s win marks the first time since 1985 that, for three consecutive races, the pole winner has also won the race.
“The fastest car’s supposed to win, right?” Kenseth asked. “That’s what racing’s all about.”
Kenseth said that his car was fast out front, but Kasey Kahne seemed to have something for him at the end. Kahne whittled away at Kenseth’s lead as the laps wound down but couldn’t quite catch him. Kahne finished second on the day for his sixth top-10 finish in 12 races at Kansas Speedway.
“Felt really good,” Kahne said of his car and race effort. “I thought we were pretty decent yesterday in practice, and so today we started 28th and just had to really take our time.”
Kahne said he moved forward thanks to “small adjustments” made to the car during the race and the track being “rubbered” in. He said he could catch Kenseth but was unable to make a move when he got close to the #20 at the end.
Jimmie Johnson finished third, giving him his 12th top-10 finish in 14 races at Kansas Speedway. Johnson said he lacked speed in qualifying and practice but had what he needed for the race.
“Our car was comfortable over the long haul, and we just kind of waited and hoped that it would come to a balance,” Johnson said. “And I felt the racecar would be there come race time, and it was. A strong performance, solid on pit road.”
Johnson gave numerous qualities that make Kenseth a good driver but said there’s no exact formula to explain why some drivers have great success at certain tracks.
“You can count on guys to run well at certain tracks, and it’s just that way,” Johnson said.
Kenseth attributed his success to the speed in his cars and the work of his team.
“I don’t know about me and the racetrack,” Kenseth said. “I think it’s really a credit to the guys that build me the racecars. That car’s been really fast ever since we took it off of the truck on Friday.”
Kenseth also praised the new track configuration with variable banking.
“I think the track’s just going to continue to get better and wider,” Kenseth said.
The race had eight different leaders and 13 lead changes. There were eight cautions for a total of 40 laps.
Johnson leaves Kansas with a 37 point lead over teammate Kasey Kahne. Keselowski sits third in points, one point back of Kahne. Kenseth is currently eighth in points, 59 behind Johnson.